â??The Bar Car,â?? Folkâ??n Bluegrass and Fridays at the Fort

by Chris Aaland

got the call at about 9 a.m. Tuesday morning that no husband or father wants to get: Shelly had been in an auto accident. She and Otto were fine, but the young buck mule deer that smashed into the side of our ’98 Chevy Suburban – and the Suburban itself – certainly weren’t. After calling our insurance company and driving the Suburban to a local mechanic, it all became crystal clear: mama needs a new ride.

Enter a 2010 Subaru Forester. The monthly payments are going to set us back for at least the next year, when our Toyota Tundra gets paid off. So for 12 months, it’ll mean cutting the fat out of our budget. Things like new music, dining out, happy hours and a few magazine subscriptions will go the way of the dinosaur.

Losing an old car is sort of like losing a pet or a friend. Aside from paying off the gas card and recent repairs to the U-joints, transfer case and transmission, all I have are memories.

The Suburban’s windshield is covered with stickers from various festivals, namely barricade passes to Telluride and campground passes to Pagosa Springs. Friends affectionately dubbed the Suburban “The Bar Car” at festivals. We’d keep the back door unlocked so that our buddies could have free access to coolers loaded with beer, water, sodas, juices, a fully stocked bar and countless appetizers. It also allowed them to keep the coolers stocked with ice; nobody likes four-day old tuna salad that’s sweltered in 80-degree heat.

So I’ll be thinking about the old Suburban while attending the third annual Pagosa Folk’n Bluegrass Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday on Reservoir Hill in Pagosa Springs. This one has quietly become one of my favorite music weekends. The on-site camping is cheap, hundreds of Durango pickers gather with their clans, and the music is solid, if not spectacular. It all kicks off with a free show at 5 p.m. Friday at the Pagosa Springs Town Park.

My favorites this year include:

ï® The Quebe Sisters Band, a five-piece from Austin that does the kind of Western swing that Bob Wills would be proud of

ï® Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams, the best little honky-tonk outfit from the Front Range

ï® Darrell Scott, a legendary songwriter and master musician who is comfortable with virtually any instrument

ï® Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. Cleveland is a five-time IBMA fiddler of the year and Flamekeeper might be the best instrumental bluegrass band around

ï® Honey Don’t. Fronted by Bill Powers and Shelley Gray of Sweet Sunny South, Honey Don’t explores the acoustic side of country.

ï® The Black Lillies, a spooky, pedal steel-driven group from Knoxville, Tenn.

ï® Instrumental heavyweights like Darol Anger & the Republic of Strings, Missy Raines & the New Hip and the Matt Flinner Trio.

If Pagosa isn’t your cup of tea, then head west to the Dolores River Music Festival on Saturday. The lineup includes the Black Lillies, Soul Kitchen, Salem, Topaz & Mudphonic, Julia Massey & the Five Finger Discount, and the New Dolorians.

The Salt Fire Circus’ “Twisted Fairytales” concludes at

the Durango Arts Center with 6:30 p.m. shows tonight (June 3), Friday and Saturday, plus 9:30 p.m. curtains Friday and Saturday. Salt Fire is a grassroots, communitywide art project that draws on the talents of dancers, singers, musicians and artists from the Durango area.

Fridays at the Fort kicks off at 4:30 p.m. this Friday with the Porchlights and special guest Hello Dollface. In an effort to repay a community that supports the arts, this is a monthly free concert series throughout the summer that brings in top talent to entertain locals and visitors alike at the Community Concert Hall. The venue’s concession stand will be open, selling beer, wine and soft drinks. The Porchlights are a husband/wife duo featuring Deb Hilton and Wild Billy Kneebone. The latter has opened for the likes of Little Feat, Sam Bush, Yonder Mountain String Band and Bruce Hornsby.

The Starlight’s highlights include jazz with Prattle from 6-9 p.m. Friday, the weekly Durango Brewing Co. barbecue from 4:30-8 p.m. Saturday, this time featuring Jah Samuel; and a Tuesday ‘70s and ‘80s retro dance party with DJ Ralphsta from 9-to-close.

The Summit’s First Friday celebrates its one-year anniversary this week. For the past year, the first Friday of each month has featured a collaboration of live music and visual art. For the anniversary, 17 different artists will do body painting, collages and more while the Drunken Immortals, the Insects, Diabolic Sound Platoon and DJ B-Side perform. The Summit also hosts a little T & E (Tails & Ears) afterparty for the Salt Fire Circus with DJ Smiley Coyote and Benjamin K at 10 p.m. Saturday.

The Balcony Bar & Grill has live music from 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. This week includes Pete Giuliani tonight, Seven on Friday, the Devil on Mars on Saturday, Terry Rickard on Sunday and the Robin Davis Duo on Wednesday.

Elsewhere: Nina Sasaki & Larry Carver have a 6-to-9 gig at the St. Clair Winery & Bistro in Farmington tonight plus 5:30 p.m. engagements at the Diamond Belle Saloon Friday and Saturday; the Purple Haze hosts a triple shot of the Kirk James Blues Band, including an FAC and late-night Friday and Saturday sets; and John Garza plays the Durango Farmers Market on Saturday morning.

With the demise of the Suburban, this week’s Top Shelf list harkens back to some fond memories:

ï® Countless pheasant hunting trips to Norton, Kan.

ï® Hundreds of fishing trips to the San Juan, high country creeks and Cracker Lake.

ï® Shuttling former New Grass Revival guitarist Pat Flynn to the Four Corners Folk Festival.

ï® Serving as Todd Snider’s limo prior to his 2002 Durango Acoustic Music gig. He made me drive home to get my copy of Joe Walsh’s Greatest Hits so that he could learn the words and chords to “Rocky Mountain Way” en route to KSUT for an in-studio appearance.

ï® Having Emmylou Harris’ road manager drop by the street between the Ice House and Camel’s Garden each year to watch us craft new libations. •

It’s a great day to be alive? E-mail me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.